‘PLL: Original Sin’: An Examination of Sexual Assault

It took a few episodes to get to what Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin wanted to say. At first, it seemed like Imogen Adams and Tabby Hayworthe’s traumas were subplots. Important ones, yes, but all the liars had their own traumas they were going through. I liked this element of the show. It also helped make the series darker than the original. It wasn’t until it was revealed that Angela Waters was also sexually assaulted that it was clear this was a big part of the story.

Tabby and Imogen tried to figure out who their rapist was. (HBO MAX)

Bullying was a big theme in both the original Pretty Little Liars and this one. Allison bullied all of them and other students. It’s what made Mona become the first A. Kelly and Karen Beasley (Mallory Bechtel) were the current-day bullies, but the bigger ones were Imogen (Bailee Madison), Tabby (Chandler Kinney), Faran Bryant (Zaria), Mouse Honrada (Malia Pyles) and Noa Olivar’s (Maia Reficco) mothers. Each of them did horrible things to Angela (Gabriella Pizzolo). The worst of them all was not believing her when she was raped. All because it was Davi Adams’ (Ava DeMary) boyfriend, Tom Beasley (Eric Johnson). They tried to erase her. They made her invisible in her lowest moment, which led to her death. It’s heartbreaking. Women already don’t get enough support after being raped. This is despicable for women to do it to another woman. It’s no wonder all the mothers felt guilty.

Mallory Bechtel as Imogen Adams on PLL: Original Sin

Luckily, things have changed a little bit since then. But unfortunately, women are still not always believed. Just look at Chip Langsberry (Carson Rowland) getting out on bail quickly. And Corey Bryant (Zakiya Young) says how hard it will be to bring justice against him. Of course, that’s a moot point after A probably killed him. But it still matters. It’s a he said she said situation unless the woman reports it immediately and gets the evidence. And even then, the case is not always solved. And many women don’t report it at all.

According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), one in six American women has been a victim of attempted or completed rape in their lifetime. In his show, three women were sexually assaulted. Imogen and Tabby had their friends and Tabby’s mom to support them. Angela had no one.

There were a lot of talking points in the show about rape, too, like Last House on The Left. That is one brutal horror film. It’s scary because it could happen. But, considering Chip had horror films like this in his closet. It’s not a good picture of our pop culture. It’s scary that some men find this arousing. I liked that Tabby again wanted to flip the script on it. She wanted to create a short rape revenge film about a woman getting revenge on her rapist.

Chandler Kinney as Tabby Hayworthe on PLL: Original Sin

PLL: Original Sin was a rape story from the female take. It was the aftermath of their rapes. Imogen had a constant reminder of her’s since she was pregnant. I now see why they wanted her to be pregnant. It gave them the DNA to track down the rapist. It also gave her a head start before A was going to kill her for the sins of her mother.

A, who was revealed to be Angela’s brother, was punishing the people who didn’t believe Angela and mistreated her because of it. Women in real life that come forward can get mistreated too. Maybe they were too drunk. Perhaps they were wearing revealing clothing and were asking for it. They get slut shamed. But those people who call these women names don’t get punished.

PLL: Original Sin was an interesting look at sexual assault through the horror genre. It can make things darker, but the writers were careful with how they portrayed it. They didn’t show the act. Instead, they represented the aftermath and the different reactions of the women reaching out. It reminds you how damaging it can be not to support a woman who has been attacked. We as a society have to do better.

If you’ve been a victim of sexual assault, call the Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673).

Mandy Carr

Editor and Founder, Primetime Addiction

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